Consumer Groups to TVA: Don’t Forget Us in Your Plan

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and other groups are concerned that TVA’s 2015 Integrated Resource Plan doesn’t go far enough for consumers or the environment. They also fear safety risks at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. Photo credit: TVA

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and other groups are concerned that TVA’s 2015 Integrated Resource Plan doesn’t go far enough for consumers or the environment. They also fear safety risks at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. Photo credit: TVA

Two steps forward, one step back. That’s the evaluation by clean-energy groups of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s annual plan on how the federal utility will generate electricity in the future. Groups such as the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Southern Environmental Law Center say the plan does address the reduction of emissions to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan. Where it falls short, said Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance, is addressing the rising costs of consumer electric bills. “We are pleased that the plan continues to move forward with TVA’s commitment to retire coal plants,” he said. “Where we’re disappointed is we feel that TVA is not pursuing all cost-effective energy efficiency that helps customers save money.” Also this week, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy filed their reply with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regarding a safety concern involving the second reactor at TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear plant in Rhea County. Investigations indicate the site is at risk if an earthquake struck or flooding occurred. A spokesperson for TVA said “both units at Watts Bar nuclear plant are designed to withstand seismic events that are likely to occur in east Tennessee.” The Integrated Resource Plan is a draft at this point, and the public and other parties are invited to attend meetings hosted by TVA over the next two months. While the plan does include solar power, Smith said when it comes to wind power, the draft is lacking. “We also feel like they’re not fully capturing what the potential is in the IRP for renewable energy,” he said. “We think there are some really interesting projects on the horizon and we think that they need to be careful in how they model those projects.” TVA has said they won’t immediately use the wind generated by the Plains and Clean Line Project, which will transfer energy generated by wind in Oklahoma to the Southeast, but Smith and others hope they reconsider that plan. Four years ago, the utility committed to become a leader in energy efficiency, but each year TVA has cut its budget for implementing more energy-efficiency efforts.